The chilling effect

Claire Trevett in the NZ Herald has some examples of what the Electoral Commission has called the “chilling effect” of the

  • Martin Taylor, chief executive of HealthCare Providers, said the lack of clarity meant he had to pull out of running his main election ads.
  • Family First’s Bob McCroskrie faced the same problem and said he was being careful in case ads he did not believe were election advertising were later found to be so. His group had to shelve an initial plan for a pamphlet for every household because the cost was twice that of the $120,000 spending cap.
  • There are no (as third parties) business advocacy groups, no Maori groups, and major lobby groups such as Federated Farmers, Grey Power and the Sensible Sentencing Trust have steered clear of the new regime, opting for more muted campaigns on “issues”.
  • The Cycling Advocates’ Network has a website and email-based campaign, including posters for download urging people to “make your vote a vote for cycling”. Spokesman Stephen McKernon said it would add an authorising statement to its website and change some of its content after the Electoral Commission told him political parties would have to give written approval of claims they were ‘pro-cycling’.
  • The Employers and Manufacturers Association was referred to the police for an advertisement opposing a law change to stop employers giving more pay in their pay packets to non-KiwiSaver members.
  • “In newspapers, there is next to no interest-group advertisements and usually this is their one chance to get their say in. I think it’s an enormously dangerous development.”

Remember if the Labour-NZ First-Green axis gets re-elected, then not only will they retain the Electoral Finance Act – they will make it worse. They will keep all the restrictions on people’s ability to campaign against parties and candidates, but make it much easier for parties to use taxpayer funding to drown out their opponents.

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